56 Chevy stalling

Hi, I have a 1956 Chevy Bel-Air that has been in my family since purchased new. It stalls when I put it in gear (reverse, to be precise). Any thoughts as to why? And, what can I do to repair it? Thanks a LOT!

1956 Chevy stalls when put in gear----any ideas why? Thanks!

I would start with leaking vacuum hoses and then start looking at a carburetor rebuild. If you do a rebuild…add a new float to the parts list. You might want to check your fuel pump pressure as well.

Transmission type?

Last time it had a full tune up?

Probably a crudded up idle circuit in the carburetor. Short of a full carb overhaul you can try the following.

Remove the idle mixture screw from the carburetor. Spray a heavy shot of aerosol carburetor cleaner into the hole. (Berryman B-12 works great)
Use a blow gun with compressed air against the hole.

This can often clear up a restriction in an idle circuit, air bleed, or whatever. Reinstall mixture screw until it gently seats and then back it out about 2.5 turns. Warm the engine up and final adjust the mix screw.

If it only stalls in reverse but runs OK in forward gears I doubt if it’s carburetor related. When you put it in reverse the engine twists on its mounts in the opposite direction from a forward gear. This can pull on a ground wire or other wire that’s making a poor connection. Try starting the engine and lightly tug on your ground wires and harness wires and see if it stalls. Stalling only in reverse I think is the key clue.

I agree with OK4450 except to add that if you have the V8, then you have a 2 barrel carburetor so you have two mixture screws and I believe the initial setting for the mix screws is 1.5 turns on that carb. Do not overtighten when reinstalling them and do spray the tips of the screws too.

If the car is a 6 cylinder, it is very sensitive to backfires through the carb. It dirties up the idle circuit badly when this happens. Rebuild it, it’s easy. Check idle speed in reverse and drive, they should be very close, check vacuum readings for in-gear and in-neutral, neutral should be slightly higher and both should be about 19 inches or more.

Remember - he says it stalls ONLY when shifting into reverse.

I would have said carb too but I think “my 2 cents” has a point with the shifting of the engine and electical.

Sure would be nice to hear a bit more about the problem and the condition of the '56 - how about it, @Briant1954 ?

The stalls only going into reverse could be a red herring. It could be that he parks nose in and has to reverse with a cold engine that sat overnight. Could be a choke or fast idle cam not working.

You have to go thru the drive gears to get to reverse, PNDLR. Linkage adjustment?

Or maybe like many drivers the shift lever is yanked quickly into the desired gear and it never spent enough time in the forward gears to stall while on the way down…

Would it stall if shifted slowly into DRIVE.